A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Lima, Peru
Lima may not be at the top of every traveler’s radar, but Peru’s capital surprises visitors by its world-renown restaurants, cliffs that plunge into the ocean, and its historic and bohemian districts. We’ll show you the many wheelchair accessible activities you can do in Lima as a wheelchair user.
Getting around Lima
Moving about Lima requires patience, thanks to standstill traffic at nearly all hours of the day and night. Below is an overview of accessibility on the most popular public forms of transportation.
The Metropolitano is an above-ground bus system in Lima with its own lane. The Metropolitano is wheelchair accessible.
It’s composed of a single path along some of the most popular spots in Lima, including Miraflores and the historical center. This is an excellent way to get around Lima as due to traffic, you’ll oftentimes arrive at your destination quicker than driving.
In theory, public buses in Lima are wheelchair accessible. There’s usually even a sign showing seating for people with limited mobility. However, we never came across a bus that had barrier-free entry. This includes the Lima Airport Express Bus, which is not accessible.
Private wheelchair accessible transportation in Lima
If conquering mediocre accessibility on public transportation sounds less than appealing, there’s the option to hire a private accessible van.
Accessible Travel Peru offers wheelchair accessible transportation to and from the Lima airport. They also offer larger, multi-day accessible tours in Lima and throughout other areas of Peru.
Wheelchair accessible things to do in Lima
Now that you’ve got an idea of how to move about Lima, let’s take a look at some of the wheelchair accessible activities you can do there.
The Malecon is an iconic sight in Lima and expands through a few districts, the most popular for tourism being Miraflores and Barranco.
This boardwalk boarders the uppermost part of Lima’s cliffs, offering incredible ocean views wherever you turn.
The Malecon is cement and mostly flat, although there are a few inclines if you veer away from the road in some areas. Along the road, there’s an average size cement sidewalk. However, we recommend taking the paths away from the road when the option is available because the path becomes wider and offers closer views of the ocean.
There are periodic areas that have drop-down curbs so that you can cross between the Malecon and inland. Notable drop-down curb locations include the Park of Love and Larcomar.
The Malecon gets extremely crowded, particularly on weekends and evenings. So, do your explorations in the morning for a better chance of a more comfortable, roomier experience.
2. Park of Love
The Park of Love is located along the Malecon in the Miraflores district but deserves a spot of its own. The statue of a couple kissing was built by Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfín and the area has a look similar to a mini Parc Güell in Barcelona.
Even if you’re not traveling with a partner, visiting the Park of Love is a fun stop. Plus, the views of the surrounding cliffs and Pacific Ocean are arguably the best there.
The Park of Love is accessible from the topmost level of the Malecon. From there, a dirt path leads down around the statue. It’s manageable with a wheelchair but will take a bit of work if you’re traveling with a manual chair.
3. Kennedy Park
Kenney Park, also called the “cat park”, is located in the center of the Miraflores district. Years ago, a priest began taking in stray cats. Word got around town and people started dropping off their unwanted cats at the park.
Nowadays, an NGO helps manage the cats at the park. They do their best to keep the cats vaccinated, spayed and neutered. You can even adopt a cat through the non-profit.
Kennedy Park is fully accessible, with drop-down curbs in a number of places around the perimeter of the park. Brick paths lead throughout the park and it’s common to encounter performances in the small outdoor auditorium.
Travel Tip: Bring some soles for street food. You’ll have your pick of sandwiches and sweet snacks.
4. Historical Center
Lima’s historical center is beautiful, but it’s best to tour it with a guide if you’re not familiar with Spanish and/or traveling in Latin American countries.
It’s easy to walk from one beautiful street to the next, not-so-safe street.
Plaza Mayor and Plaza San Martín are two must-see sites while you’re in the historical center. Both are accessible with drop-down curbs at intersections and flat sidewalks crisscrossing throughout the plazas.
While you’re in the historical center, if you hired a private vehicle, you can ask your driver to take you to the top of Cerro San Cristobal. This is a steep climb with some scary drop-offs, but if you like an adrenaline rush you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views over downtown Lima from the top…provided that you visit on a somewhat clear day!
If you enjoy a bohemian vibe, Barranco is the perfect district for you. Located beside Miraflores and seated on a portion of the oceanfront Malecon, Barranco makes for a nice quarter-day wheelchair accessible excursion in Lima.
The Plaza de Armas marks the center of Barranco. This plaza is fully accessible. The rest of Barranco, however, tends to be less accessible than Miraflores.
One of the attractions of Barranco is the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs). Although stairs are involved to cross this bridge, there’s an accessible pedestrian road that runs beneath the upper part of the bridge down to the ocean, passing some cute shops and restaurants along the way.
This path is brick and many of the shops and restaurants will need to be admired from the outside, as most aren’t accessible. However, there are restaurants around Barranco’s plaza that are accessible.
6. Surquillo Market
Given the incredible cuisine in Peru, visiting a market in Lima should be on your to-do list. The Surquillo Market is an excellent option, as it borders the Miraflores district.
We’re not going to beat around the bush here- this indoor market can get packed and many aisles are narrow, particularly the further in you venture.
However, vendors also fill the streets around the Surquillo Market, meaning that you can have a great market experience by wheeling around the sidewalks immediately surrounding the market and perusing through the frontmost portion of the indoor market.
Travel Tip: An outdoor Bioferia Market is held next to the Surquillo Market every Sunday. This market is fully accessible, although going early is recommended to avoid crowds.
Have you ever been to an outdoor mall built into the side of a cliff? If not, Lima is your chance to do so.
Enjoying a privileged location in Miraflores, the Larcomar Mall’s top floor sits level with the road, with its floors built down into Lima’s cliffs, overlooking the ocean.
Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The lower floors of the Larcomar Mall are wheelchair accessible via an elevator in the underground parking lot.
Even if you’re not interested in shopping, we recommend heading to Larcomar for drinks or a meal. Restaurants such as Tanta are accessible and have ocean-view seating.
8. Parque El Olivar
Parque El Olivar, translated to “Olive Grove Park” in English, is just what it sounds like- a park full of olive trees!
This park is located in the San Isidro district and will give you the feeling that you’ve stepped outside of Lima’s bustling capital.
Ponds with ducks, a library, and friendly, non-pushy street food vendors are scattered about the park.
The park is flat with cement sidewalks winding throughout. It’s a great place to bring a snack or have a picnic.
9. Eat at a world-renown restaurant
For foodies, it’s pretty exciting to be in the vicinity of a world-renown restaurant. By visiting Lima, you’ll be in the vicinity of two world-renown restaurants.
So. Very. Cool.
They are Central (#6 in the world) and Maido (#10 in the world).
Central is wheelchair accessible. Maido requires going up to the second floor by means of a small elevator. However, only small chairs will be able to use the elevator.
Even if you don’t visit Central or Maido, there are tons of delicious restaurants to try in Lima. You can get a feel for some of them here.
Travel Tip: Make your reservation far in advance or else you could spend your days in Lima being waitlisted at the restaurant of your dreams.
10. Larco Museum
Lima has a lot of great museums, but by far the most popular is the Larco Museum. Home to a variety of pre-Columbian art, a history buff could easily spend a day exploring this museum.
The Larco Museum is also famous for its collection of erotic pottery. If you’re traveling with kids, don’t worry- they have it well labeled in a special section of the museum.
The Larco Museum is completely wheelchair accessible with ramps to all the exhibitions. They offer free wheelchair rentals, a discount for people with disabilities, and accessible restrooms.
Travel Tip: Plan your visit to the Larco Museum around a meal. Their onsite restaurant has incredible food with lovely garden views.
There are a variety of things you can do as a wheelchair user in Lima. We hope this post has inspired you to visit Lima and enjoy the many tastes and sights that Peru’s capital has to offer.
Have you visited Lima as a wheelchair user? We’d love to hear your tips and recommendations in the comments section. If you have questions about traveling to Peru with a wheelchair, let us know and we’ll do our best to help out.
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.